If you’ve spent time hiking around the woods, then you know that typically nothing interesting happens. It’s quiet, except for perhaps the occasional wildlife running through the trees. Aside from a deer here and a patch of wildflowers there, the forest is a pretty standard scene of rocks, trees, and insects.
So, you can imagine his surprise when environmental services director Mark Andre stumbles across something out of the ordinary. He grew up walking around the Arcata, California, Community forest, so he knew right away that his findings were strange. You won’t believe what he found hidden in the trees.
Meet Mark Andre Of Arcata, California
Mark Andre has spent his life exploring the woods surrounding his hometown of Arcata, California. So growing up to become the town’s environmental services director was a dream job for the northern California native.
There was little about the land that he did not know, pretty much having the surrounding area memorized as well as the back of his own hand. There was nothing that could surprise him in the woods, or so the environmentalist thought.
Mark Saw Something Out Of Place In The Forest
One day, while Mark was out in the Arcata Community Forest tagging trees to be harvested, he stumbled upon something strange. There was an object just past the trees that he had never seen before.
He was fairly certain that whatever it was, wasn’t there the last time he was in this specific area of the woods. Even though he took care before walking up to the strange thing, Mark was not prepared for what he found.
Hidden In The Trees Was A Mysterious Cabin
Hidden in the trees and well camouflaged was an elaborate makeshift cabin. Mark had never seen something of its like before! One thing he did know was that it had been constructed in that spot illegally, so he needed to proceed with caution.
He wasn’t sure what he was going to find inside of the little hut. If there was a person, were they armed and dangerous? Perhaps they thought Mark was intruding on their land! Thankfully, there was a padlock on the door, making him believe the place was empty.
Whoever Owned The Cabin Wasn’t Expecting To Be Found
Even though Mark is well versed in the geography of the forest, he hadn’t been to this exact area for some time. Since 1985, to be exact, back when he was just a forest technician.
One thing was clear, the person who built the cabin had no desire to be discovered, nor were they expecting to be. For a makeshift hut in the woods, the thing was very well put together and didn’t look like it was going to succumb to any of the elements or be found.
It Was Small But With Plenty Of Room For One Person
It was pure luck that Mark happened to stumble upon the cabin. It was expertly placed within the tree line, and if you didn’t know what to look for, you weren’t going to find it. So whoever the owner was didn’t have to fear getting kicked out by forest rangers.
The cabin measured roughly 12-feet wide and 15-feet high. Not a lot of space, but enough for a single person who is roughing it in the wilderness.
It Even Had A Front Porch And Awning
Mark also took note of its foundation. The entire thing was made of plywood covered in tarps, the builder even went as far as to give their little cabin a vaulted roof to make it feel more spacious. There was also a window, front porch, and awning to give it more of a homey vibe.
Whoever built the cabin in the woods clearly put a lot of time and effort into their architectural plan, making it their own. All Mark had to do now was muster up the courage to go inside.
The Cabin Was A Mystery Mark Wanted To Solve
Mark could only assume the cabin hadn’t been found yet because of its isolated location and camouflaged-state. Both reasons are also most likely how the builder was able to construct the place without getting in trouble.
“I didn’t see it until I was 12-feet from it,” says Mark. “It’s in the perfect out-of-the-way spot where it wouldn’t be detected.” Only, now Mark knew about its location and was getting increasingly more curious about it. The entire thing was a mystery he wanted to solve.
It Was Completely Isolated
What made the cabin even stranger was that there were no footprints or trails leading to or from its location. Also, there was no environmental abuse or littering surrounding the place. Whoever lived there clearly respected nature. Maybe they grew up in the woods like Mark.
After thoroughly inspecting the outside of the cabin and the surrounding land, there was nothing left for Mark to do but go inside. There was a padlock on the door, so no one was going to be inside. Right?
Mark Started To Feel Like He Was Being Watched
As Mark contemplated what to do he started to feel uneasy. The woods used to be his safe and familiar place where he could be alone with nature. Now, he felt tense. It was almost like he could feel each little sound in the wind, the murmur in the trees. For once, he didn’t feel like he was alone.
Was someone watching him scout out the cabin? Mark could have sworn he felt a presence surrounding him. One thing was certain, he couldn’t do this by himself.
Mark Brought In Reinforcements
Before going inside, Mark though it would be a smart idea to call two forest technicians, Javier Nogueira and Nick Manfredonia, for backup. Along with park ranger Heidi Groszmann, they ventured to the mysterious cabin in the woods.
Unfortunately, the ranger had to make a decision. As the cabin was technically on public land, they needed a search warrant to go inside. But what if someone was hurt? Leaving them would be irresponsible. After no one answered their multiple calls, ranger Groszmann made the call.
They Cut The Padlock
Together, they finally cut off the padlock on the front door. It took longer than any of them thought it would. But once it was off, they weren’t sure what they were going to find inside the tiny cabin, they walked slowly. Their imaginations weren’t even close to conjuring up what they actually found inside.
Because she was the only one with a weapon, Heidi entered the cabin first, shouting, “Arcata police!” Thankfully, they were alone. Whoever lived in the cabin was long gone.
They Tried To Figure Out Who Lived In The Cabin
When it was clear the four of them were alone, they started to scour the area, taking in all of the contents on the shelves, floors, and in the miscellaneous crates. The owner of the cabin might have been gone, but the place was definitely well-loved and lived in.
They wanted to see if they could figure out anything about the owner from the supplies. It would have been helpful if there were any pictures, but there was nothing.
From The Looks Of It, The Owner Was Not Struggling To Survive
The group quickly realized that the place was weirdly organized for a cabin in the woods. The living room and kitchen areas were tiny, and non-perishable canned foods and housekeeping supplies were neatly placed on built-in shelves.
Beside a rocking chair, there was a coffee table with a tea kettle, and directly across from that was a pot-bellied stove. Weirdly enough, the place seemed ordinary. It made them think that whoever was living there was not exactly “struggling in the wilderness.”
They Suspected An Older Person Lived There
There was another shelf that contained various books, including Catch Me If You Can and Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West. The four began to suspect that the owner of the cabin was older. A young person probably wouldn’t pick up a book titled Public Secrets for fun.
There were also cassette tapes, which furthered their suspicions of the person’s age. Still, they could only guess. Nothing else around the cabin gave any hint on who called the mysterious cabin home.
There Was A To-Do List And A Newspaper
But the books and old cassettes weren’t the only things they found. There was also a handwritten “Things To Do And Get” list, which told them a bit more about the cabin’s inhabitant, but not much. The list included dates and tasks, such as “build bench,” “extend brush wall,” “season cast irons,” “get six-inch stovepipe flashing,” and “get tongs.”
There was also a copy of Humboldt State University’s The Lumberjack newspaper, dated March 25, 2015. Between the list and newspaper, the group began to piece together a timeline when the owner might have lived in the cabin.
There Was No Concrete Evidence About Who Lived There
Weirdly enough, the team of four also found two driver’s licenses, each had a different name and didn’t help the team identify the owner. They could only assume that the person lived here seasonally.
But there were two licenses. Maybe, two people were living in the cabin, and not just one like the group had originally thought. Honestly, considering some of the heavy objects inside, it would make sense that it took two people to lift them through the forest. But that still wasn’t concrete evidence.
The Group Really Wanted DNA
The group considered getting a forensics team down to the site. If anyone could find DNA linking the cabin to someone, it would be them! They really wanted to figure out who had so expertly built this cabin in the middle of nowhere. Not to mention how they were able to carry all of the heavier supplies into the forest without anyone noticing.
Mark couldn’t shake the feeling that something ominous was going on. Was this person just an innocent person in the woods? Or were they something more sinister?
The Team Left An Eviction Notice On The Door
Unfortunately, it was getting dark. The team decided to call it a day because they didn’t want to be in the middle of the forest when the sun completely set. That, and they didn’t want to be near the cabin in case whoever owned the thing decided to come back in the middle of the night.
The group made their exit. But not before they left an eviction notice on the door. The cabin was sitting on a nature refuge, after all. They couldn’t have guessed what happened next.
There Was A Strange Symbol On The Ground
Authorities returned to the cabin the next day, and what they found left them speechless. The place was completely deconstructed! The only trace that anyone had been there was a charcoal “squatters symbol” where the cabin once sat.
Michael McDowall, the natural resources technician for the Environmental Services Department, said “That’s the cleanest camp cleanup I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t a nail, not even a gum wrapper left behind.” At least the environmentalists can’t be mad at the squatter for littering!
The Cabin Remains A Mystery
Considering the cabin was illegally constructed, it was very unlikely that the cabin’s owner was going to come forward. Still, it’s pretty impressive that the person was able to construct it in the first place. Not to mention they were able to live there without anyone stumbling across it.
Considering all of the “amenities” the cabin had, it’s possible that they were there for some time. But why seclude yourself in the forest away from the comforts of society? Whoever this person is clearly is a minimalist and survivalist and the mystery of their cabin might never be solved.